Central questions in the neurobiology of learning and memory are where and how experience modifies the brain to alter behavior. Recently we have described a physiological phenomenon in head-fixed awake mice termed stimulus-selective response potentiation (SRP), in which responsiveness of primary visual cortex is markedly enhanced as a result of repeated exposure to specific visual stimuli. This robust form of plasticity is induced and expressed in the adult primary visual cortex and displays many of the features that are characteristic of perceptual learning. The primary aims of this research are to;a) to determine the behavioral significance of SRP using two novel behavioral assays;b) determine how SRP is expressed at the cellular level within visual cortex and;c) pinpoint the synapses that are modified. Beyond the relevance of our proposed research to identifying the mechanisms underlying perceptual learning and/or visual recognition memory, they will broaden our understanding of how primary sensory areas are modified by sensory experience in order to modify behavior, which remains one of the great challenges in basic neuroscience.

Public Health Relevance

Understanding how the brain encodes sensory information to form perceptions and memories remains one of the greatest challenges in the field of neuroscience. The goal of this research project is to characterize the molecular, cellular and network mechanisms which serve these functions in visual cortex. Identifying these mechanisms will advance not only our understanding of normal brain function, but also those disorders where perception, learning and memory are disrupted.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
1R01EY023037-01A1
Application #
8576254
Study Section
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Study Section (LAM)
Program Officer
Steinmetz, Michael A
Project Start
2013-08-01
Project End
2017-07-31
Budget Start
2013-08-01
Budget End
2014-07-31
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$390,000
Indirect Cost
$140,000
Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department
Miscellaneous
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
001425594
City
Cambridge
State
MA
Country
United States
Zip Code
02139
Gavornik, Jeffrey P; Bear, Mark F (2014) Higher brain functions served by the lowly rodent primary visual cortex. Learn Mem 21:527-33